CASISAC “Changes in the Agulhas System and its impacts on Southern African Coasts”

 

CASISAC “Changes in the Agulhas System and its impacts on Southern African Coasts”

 

A joint project in the “SPACES Program - Science Partnerships for the Adaptation of Complex Processes in the Earth System in the Region Southern Africa” in the BMBF Framework Programme “Research for Sustainable Development” (FONA3)

 

Project partners:

P1: GEOMAR (Prof. Dr. Arne Biastoch (Coordination) and Prof. Dr. Katja Matthes)

 

P2: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht GmbH (HZG) (Dr. Eduardo Zorita and Dr. Birgit Hünicke)

 

P3: Forschungsinstitut Wasser und Umwelt (fwu), University of Siegen (Dr.-Ing. Sönke Dangendorf and Prof. Dr.-Ing Jürgen Jensen)

 

P4: Coastal risks and sea-level rise research group, Geography Department, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (CAU) (Prof. Dr. Athanasios Vafeidis)

 

Background:

In Southern Africa we find the Agulhas current system, which plays an important role in the global ocean circulation and has a direct influence on the regional sea-level and climate (winds and precipitation), which in turn control the distribution and magnitude of wind waves and storm surges. Therefore, climate induced changes in the Agulhas system can lead to regional changes in mean sea-level and atmospheric variables, producing in turn changes in flood drivers such as waves, storm surges, precipitation and river discharge. These changes put enormous pressure on Southeast African coastal zones, where one third of the country's population lives. Coastal cities (such as Maputo, Durban, and Port Elizabeth) are located in estuarial areas and have been built by inadequate urban planning along beaches that have high water levels. These are already exposed to flooding from several drivers such as waves, storm surges and river discharge. However, dealing with climate change and SLR is a challenge for this coastal region due to the little information available on historical events and on the potential effects of climate change in future extreme events. A significant gap exists in the research of climate change impacts on the coastal cities, which is required in order to develop climate-resilient coastal planning in a region with limited adaptive capacity and expected to experience one of the world's highest growth rates by 2100.

 

Research Objectives:

CASISAC will simulate changes in the Agulhas current climate change for the Southeast African region. In addition, CASISAC will project changes in the atmosphere through increases in greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting impact on rainfall, runoff, storm surges and waves in the region. The assessment of these changes will be performed by P1, P2 and P3, while the main objective of P4 “Impacts and Vulnerability of the Southern African coast” will be to assess the current and future flood impacts and vulnerability of the Southern African coasts, including the changes induced by climate change on all flood drivers and accounting for different plausible socio-economic developments. In addition, P4 will assess the feasibility of a range potential adaptation measurements for the coastal region of South Africa.

 

Methodology:

The planned work of P4 is divided into three work packages (WP). The first WP involves the acquisition and analysis of all datasets required for the impact and vulnerability assessment (e.g. population, elevation, assets). These datasets are commonly available from different sources and are in different resolutions. Therefore, all datasets available will be collected and downscaled to the required resolutions using different approaches (e.g. spatially distributing population based on land use). In the second WP, regional and local flood models will be set-up and validated for historical flood events. The third work package includes the damage assessment of current and potential future flood events (provided by P3), taking into account different socio-economic scenarios and potential adaptation strategies (e.g. Dikes, dunes, set-back zones).

 

Funding:

Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (DE)

 

 

Project partners:

 

P1: GEOMAR (Prof. Dr. Arne Biastoch (Coordination) and Prof. Dr. Katja Matthes)

 

P2: Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht GmbH (HZG) (Dr. Eduardo Zorita and Dr. Birgit Hünicke)

 

P3: Forschungsinstitut Wasser und Umwelt (fwu), University of Siegen (Dr.-Ing. Sönke Dangendorf and Prof. Dr.-Ing Jürgen Jensen)

 

P4: Coastal risks and sea-level rise research group, Geography Department, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel (CAU) (Prof. Dr. Athanasios Vafeidis)